Since 2010, it has been the mission of The Leadership and Entrepreneurship Incubator (LEI) to empower teens with critical skills for business acuity, job readiness, and financial literacy. Each year, teens from 2 countries commit to participate together in a program in which some of them will invest the full four years, putting them on a launching pad to future success.
Asante Africa Foundation’s LEI program helps students envision the possibilities of the future, plan for them, and gain vital life skills and critical thinking skills that will help them achieve their goals. As a student moves through the changing roles contingent to the program, they develop an invaluable drive and confidence that propels them to apply their skills to find solutions and opportunities within their communities. While the Leadership and Entrepreneurship Incubator has directly impacted approximately 450 students through 2013, our most conservative calculations indicate they are in turn impacting at least 10 times that many of their community members. This ripple effect is occurs because the young leaders who leave LEI believe in themselves, the knowledge they have received, and strive to pay it forward.
A peek into the lives of LEI alumni who are hard at work on independent projects offers an inspiring picture, highlighting the intense desire of young people to work hard to support and advance their environments. These young adults have experiences that require them to be youth leaders, group organizers, and business-acclimated. We thought you’d like to hear from a few of the bright stars who are bringing our mission to life:
Anderson Hussein illustrates that a dream doesn’t have to large to be successful. “After attending the Leadership and Entrepreneurial Incubator, I felt inspired to turn the lessons I had learned into something useful. I turned to what I knew best — football. Where I just saw it as a hobby earlier, with planning and organization, I was able to create a formal club with 16 members. The club is popular because it serves a diversion from drugs and bad behavior for youth. Furthermore, it gives me the chance to act as an educator and role model, sharing what I learned with kids who need it.”
Leon Erasmi of Tanzania speaks of how not achieving instant success has been an asset for him, forcing him to be more solution-focused.
“I was first introduced to Asante Africa’s leadership club at my school. I remember the club chairperson, Kelvin Rodrick , speaking of the group’s pillars of commitment, transparency, acting as role models, and paying it forward. Inspired, I worked with Kelvin to advocate for the school club and became a regular participant, finding meaning in the positive, self-strengthening focus of the group. Through the group, I learned how to begin mapping my personal dream and strategizing as to how to achieve it. I wanted to publish a book so I collected ideas and stories until I was able to write a concise hard copy.
Yet, I knew nobody to publish it nor did I have money for production. At an apparent roadblock, I drew upon my problem-solving skills and persistence by using a small amount of money to print sample books and seeking out a well-wisher who put me in touch with industry contacts. My hope is that someone who will read my sample will invest in printing the full copies. While my dream is still in progress, I spend my time paying it forward because I know that my efforts to hand over the skills that I was taught are central to the advancement of local communities. I believe that educating, mentoring, and motivating young people, especially those in more insular communities where infrastructure, family, and cultural mores may work against them, will allow the advantages of LEI education to permeate far beyond the participating students.”
Mirella Cherop was another participant in LEI whose drive was instrumental in her success.
“After returning to my community after the LEI, I was very eager to use my newly learned skills. I decided to collaborate with the local church to spearhead an effort to grow vegetables in the church compound. The money we made after selling the harvest was put back into purchasing supplies for the next cycle. I have been learning valuable lessons each time and hence have been sharing my knowledge with friends who are trying similar projects within the community and rely on me as a mentor. I hope that we will earn enough with this project to support needy members of the church.”
Another student, Caroline Sunte, was inspired to capitalize on her entrepreneurial potential after attending LEI in 2010. “I have been successfully running a small-scale orange farm since I’ve returned from the LEI. Like most new entrepreneurs, I experienced trouble when I initially started my business. We had to buy seedlings and learn how to grow the fruit properly. However, with time and problem solving, I was able to do better and make a profitable business. Still, I was unsatisfied. I searched for a way to make an impact on my community, not just my family. I was lucky to find people who thought like me, people who had also gone through the Leadership and Entrepreneuship Incubator. Together, we created the Angaza Foundation, a group that provides entrepreneurial training, leadership, test-taking assistance, motivational lectures, health education, financial literacy, team building, and charity.”
Angaza Foundation, ‘to enlighten’, works in Narok and Isiolo Counties in Kenya to spread knowledge and impart basic and specialized where gaps exist. Their areas of focus run the gamut from body awareness and reproductive health to dream mapping. In other words, they are aware of the totality and variety of barriers that exist to advancement and work diligently to address them. Angaza Foundation is a prime example of a strong organization that was borne out of the need to scale Asante Africa Foundation’s work to meet the needs of an expansive population. It is valuable to note that former LEI participants believed so strongly in the model of paying it forward that they turned their skills and passion into a venture that seeks to give other young people the same opportunity.
On behalf of these young leaders, teachers and entrepreneurs, we thank you for your support of the Leadership and Entrepreneurship Incubator.